Category: Book

The Pickwick Papers

David Stuart Davies looks at Charles Dickens’ first novel.  ‘That punctual servant of all work, the sun, had just risen, and begun to strike a light on the morning of the thirteenth of May, one thousand eight hundred and twenty-seven, when Samuel Pickwick burst like another sun from his slumbers, threw open his chamber window,… Read More

Mansfield Park

In the third blog in her short series on Empire, Sally Minogue considers whether the hidden issues of slavery in Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park have an impact on the moral compass of the novel. At the heart of any discussion about Empire and the literature of the past is the question of historicity. Is belonging… Read More


‘Conclusions most forbidden’: Frankenstein and the Romantic Hero To read Frankenstein is to enter a realm of intersecting myths. It is there immediately in the novel’s original subtitle ‘The Modern Prometheus’, a comparison between the Faustian Victor Frankenstein and the Titan who stole fire from the gods and was punished horribly for gifting it to… Read More


Sally Minogue continues her ‘Empire’ series, looking at Rudyard Kipling’s novel Kim and touching on some of his poetry. Rudyard Kipling has elements in common with my previous subject, Joseph Conrad, in spite of appearances to the contrary. ‘Rudyard’ was Kipling’s second given name (his first was Joseph), derived from Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire where… Read More

The Real Count Dracula

Dr Stephen Carver looks at the most famous vampire of them all. When Bram Stoker died after a series of strokes on April 20, 1912, his obituary in The Times made only a single and cursory reference to Dracula noting that ‘He was the master of a particularly lurid and creepy kind of fiction’. The… Read More

Heart of Darkness

‘And this also has been one of the dark places of the earth’: as we all recalibrate our understanding of Empire, Sally Minogue reconsiders Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in the first of a short series of blogs on literature and colonialism.  A few months ago, in the balmy Spring weather, I walked with friends… Read More

The Secret Agent

David Stuart Davies looks at one of Joseph Conrad’s later political novels. The Secret Agent is a bleak novel, the gloom of which is alleviated by the subtle thread of humour which is woven into the story. The dark and often depressing mood of the book is said to have been influenced by Charles Dickens’… Read More

The Idiot

 ‘The Idiot’ was the third of Dostevesky’s classic novels. David Stuart Davies takes up the story. ‘The Idiot anticipates not just the concerns of twentieth century existentialist thought but heralds our modern age in general.’ Agnes Cardinal The Idiot (1869 ) is one of a trio of great Russian novels penned by Fyodor Dostoevsky which… Read More

Fathers and Sons

David Stuart Davies looks at the major work by one of the greatest Russian authors. ‘We sit in the mud, my friend, and reach for the stars.’ Ivan Sergeyevich Turgenev (1818-1883) was a novelist poet and playwright, and one of the greatest figures of Russian literature. His novel Fathers and Sons (1862) is regarded as… Read More